Authenticity, Protecting your Energy & Toxic Positivity

Toxic positivity is the most powerful weapon against authenticity. Don’t believe me? Let me explain. 

Before we start here’s little background on toxic positivity

I love love. I love play, excitement, joy, fun! But it is wildly ignorant to believe that everything will always be rainbow and sunshine! I preach that our mindset matters and having a generally positive outlook is helpful for our mental state BUT we can go overboard in the positivity department. This is when positivity becomes toxic. 

Toxic positivity is the overgeneralization that we should be positive and optimistic ALWAYS. It stems from an unwillingness to acknowledge or experience negative emotions. Toxic positivity can feel fake at best and can force participants to repress their negative feelings at worst. 

Youtube Breakdown of Bossbabe culture!

What’s so bad about ignoring our negative emotions? Any emotion we ignore, bury or try to hide is just a bubble of trauma waiting to be burst. If we do not FEEL and ACKNOWLEDGE our emotions they maintain power over us and slip into our subconscious. They start impacting how we make decisions with or without our knowledge. 

In other words, toxic positivity is being SO optimistic we refuse to acknowledge who or what we are. It buries our authenticity and convinces us that we shouldn’t feel negative emotions (and we all know how I feel about shoulding”). 

Toxic positivity is not just “look at the positives” it’s saying to actively ignore and avoid the negatives. 

Toxic Positivity in the Wild

So now that we have our definition let’s jump into how it is used against us (usually against women or femme members of society). 

I’m going to use the phrase positive vibes to explain this. Let’s say I have a neon sign that says “positive vibes only” in my living room. Cute, right? 

Sure, BUT what if you, my bff, come over and need to complain. You really need to let out all the big sad feelings you are having because your husband left you, he stole your favorite cat, he wants custody of your aquarium that you bought and paid for and he was cheating on you with an employee at the pet store. Rough right? 

We sit down on the couch with the sign hanging on the wall behind me. As you tell me all about the AWFUL things that are happening to you, I sit there, with my glaring sign behind me and tell you “everything happens for a reason” or “you don’t want to be with a man like that anyway”. By saying this I begin subtly (or not so subtly) SHAMING you into positivity when you really need to feel all your feels instead. 

That neon sign behind me begins making you feel ashamed for bringing “negative” vibes into the space. It invalidates your feelings and makes the statement that you shouldn’t be feeling or sharing these negative experiences. Toxic positivity tells you that it is shameful to not be positive, to feel bad for yourself, to have emotions. Because of this, toxic positivity forces us to stay stuck where we are. 

Two Reasons Toxic Positivity Causes Stagnation 

  1. It causes us to repress how we feel and hide parts of ourselves to keep the peace. When we ignore our humanness we prevent ourselves from processing the pain. We would rather stay exactly where we are than deal with the emotion due to the fear that it may not be a positive experience. 
  1. When we pretend everything is ok (or convince ourselves that everything is perfect) we can’t see where we need to grow. Toxic positivity glosses over all the places we can grow. It smooths out any blemishes, it prevents us from seeing things as they are and if we can’t identify the issues we can’t fix them. 

Toxic positivity creates inauthentic and fake happiness. It tells us that just being in this moment means that we should (you know how I feel about should) be happy. Asking people to use perspective before they have had a chance to process their emotions marginalizes their experience and dehumanizes them. By forcing people to repress their emotions we are telling them that their baseline emotional level is “too much” or “inappropriate” under the guise of making other people comfortable. You should never make yourself less to make others comfortable (but you should respect their boundaries). 

Toxic Positivity in #Bossbabe Culture 

As I mentioned earlier, toxic positivity is usually used against women. The power of positive thinking is a marketing tool used by MLMs to convince women to invest in their programs. MLMs or “multi-level marketing” schemes are organizations that operate by recruiting salespeople who are not employees of the company. In most instances these sales people are then asked to recruit other sales people to make more money. Women are fed the line that they will “be a boss babe”, “own their own business” or #workhardplayhard to fuel their success. 

Who doesn’t want someone to give them the blueprints to success! It all sounds fun until you run out of friends and family to recruit from. All you have to do is plug in your network and build like the inspirational woman in the video they showed you with the sad sob story. When you no longer have the ability to add anyone else to your team because you’ve tapped your network dry, your dreams of being a #bossbabe begin to feel like failure.

In a lot of these organizations the person who recruited you is making money off your success SO they will feed you lies of toxic positivity or shame you into believing that you aren’t working hard enough. According to your bossbabe boss you are not allowed to fail or failure is not an option. Unfortunately for your bossbabe mentor, you can (and probably will at some point or another) fail.

A major issue with this failure is the financial burden it causes on the women who are duped into participating. These organizations do not just prey on suburban middle class women – they don’t care who they make money off of as long as they can get them to pay for their products. They do this by telling rags to riches stories to “empower” the women involved. But they don’t disclose the failure rates of women who join.

The Power of Positive Thinking

I think MLMs are totally fine if you have disposable income and want to try to make money but I do not believe they are the environment that can pull you out of poverty – and they are willing to take anyone’s money regardless of the odds of success. So, if you are spending your last pennies on a product that you then have to encourage others to buy before you can make money you are probably making a poor financial investment. It’s not IMPOSSIBLE to succeed from this position but it is harder. 

This power of positive thinking makes you believe you are the anomaly instead of normal. It will shame you into believing that you have to be willing to do “whatever it takes” to succeed. It’s bullshit- positive thinking isn’t the only piece that leads to success – and we need to throw toxic positivity away. 

Conclusion

Please don’t take this as an anti-positivity post – I love having a sunny disposition when it’s authentic! I truly believe that there is power in positive thinking – but there is just as much value in honoring your emotions, listening to your own intuition and rejecting inauthentic positivity. Please remember when you feel anything other than positive – that’s ok, normal and important as well! 

*I am not a doctor or therapist. 

Authenticity and Bravery Go Hand in Hand

I’ve talked about bravery before but lately I’ve had a bravery break through that I wanted to share. If you read the last post about bravery you might have a clue – it’s all about the importance of authenticity. 

In that post I chatted about the importance of authenticity and how to embody it but this time I want to elaborate.

And before we begin, yes, it is cheesy but the whole “be you everyone else is taken” can ring true. Stay with me as we dig into this!

Authenticity

Being authentic is the bravest choice you can make. Showing up unapologetically you (but obviously with kindness and good intentions) is the most important thing you can do – be you – it’s cheesy but you were meant to do big things. 

If we believe in higher power, God, Spirit, Energy, Source whatever caused us to be here – right now- then we are likely to believe that we were put here at this time for a specific reason. We were designed to exist as who we are for a specific reason. We were meant to have the wants, dreams, qualities and passions for a reason and this reason is SPECIFIC and individual to all of us. It is authentic. This individuality is why we have so many opinions on everything and everyone and why we judge other people or worry about them judging us. 

It’s messy – but it’s also liberating! Everyone is not supposed to follow the same path. If we all did the exact same thing that would be 1) boring 2) useless and 3) creates a homogenous world filled with things we could all do ourselves. We have to embrace our unique gifts and authenticity – we have to believe in our unique personal mission – we have to trust that there is some sort of plan or purpose and we have to be willing to be brave to find it. Our bravery is what allows us to follow our mission – allows us to be our most authentic selves. 

Being authentic is crucial to our success but we avoid it. Why?

Fear & Scarcity Mindset

We love to let our fear and scarcity mindset get in the way. Instead of listening to our inner guidance about our wants and passions we get caught up with our What If Monster and Shoulds. 

What If Monster

Our What If Monster is a jerk. We talk about him a lot in WDYW but to keep it brief he feeds off of fears and loves to stop us from doing new things under the guise of keeping us safe. He attacks using “logic” and scares us into staying the same. Our What If Monster says things like: 

  • What if I’m not “allowed” to have success?
  • What if I’m not meant to follow my dreams?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if people think I’m stupid for doing this?

He’s a real asshole. Every time we give in to his antics and hesitate from a place of fear (or hold ourselves back) we give him more fuel. We fill him up and make him so big that every little task feels impossible. Any new opportunity feels like it could be a threat. 

Stop Feeding the Monster

What we forget in this scenario is that we have the power to cut him off. We have the power to overcome him. All we have to do is stop feeding him. There are a couple techniques for this but one of my favorites is to play my What If scenario out.

What if people judge me? Then people judge me. I let other people’s potential opinions keep me from doing something I want to do. People judging me is a reflection on them not me. We can go on and on from here and in the end we usually come to the same place. IF the big scary what if happens then we will be ok, we will have done the big exciting thing we wanted to do and we will have learned something new. As long as we aren’t endangering ourselves or others we need to stop feeding the What If Monster so we can take away his power. 

Shoulds 

We love shoulding all over ourselves. Shoulding is another way we dim our inner voice and authenticity and tune into the way we think we were supposed to do things because of our childhood, lifestyle or opinions of others. Shoulding sucks. 

We should all over ourselves when we say things like

  • I should go on a diet 
  • I should go on a run 
  • I should get up and clean the house 

Shoulding forces us to ignore our wants and our wants are where our authenticity hides. We need to pay attention to our usage of should and try to frame things in a way that inspires us instead of bringing us down! 

Authenticity & Bravery

When we start noticing our shoulds and what ifs we begin to find our authenticity.By tuning out the noise from the outside we can listen to ourselves within. When we start to listen to our inner voice or intuition to be ourselves – that’s the bravest thing we can do. 

Being brave doesn’t mean we aren’t afraid. Being brave means we show up anyway even when we are scared shitless. 

Showing up as our most authentic selves is an act of bravery. It’s the bravest thing we can do. Taking an open and honest look at ourselves is BRAVE af. Looking inside, getting to know all of ourselves and loving ourselves along the way is BRAVE af. 

Being you is the bravest thing you can do. Ready to tap into your inner badass? Sign up for a program or schedule a 1×1 (while spots are still available). We can access your bravest most badass self. Details here. 

Triggered af & Wanting what other people have

While we continue our chat about wants I NEED to say this: You’re allowed to want what other people have! 

I don’t know about all of you but for me quarantine has been a time warp of mindless scrolling and social media envy. I would watch Instagram stories of people living lives so vastly different than mine and I would get filled with envy – I was triggered. 

Triggers in Action

After envy runs its course it is usually followed by shame. Shame for being jealous, shame for wanting what other people had, shame for wishing I was living a different life or had a different set of circumstances. 

Shame is a useless emotion and I grew tired of tapping into it so I decided it was time to address my triggers head on – and that’s when everything clicked. 

It is ok to have envy, it is ok to be jealous of what other people have, it’s ok to feel sad, annoyed, frustrated. ALL FEELINGS ARE VALID. It’s important to feel them, analyze them, look at them. 

But it’s not ok to take action from this place. 

What to Do With triggers

While that’s great in concept it’s a little hard to apply in real life. So I came up with a way to turn my triggers into growth. To learn from my envy and it’s been an amazing mindset shift. 

To do this we need to ask ourselves why we are triggered. We have to dig into the feeling we are having and why we are having it. We have to get REAL AF with ourselves and not be afraid of what we find. 

What I’ve discovered is that most envy comes from a place of fear or scarcity. A place where we ask “Why do they have what I want” when we really need to ask “Why do I feel like I can’t have what they have?” or “Why do I feel like I’m not enough?”. 

We can’t place our envy on other people – we have to find where it comes from inside of us. 

Its ok to want

I’ve learned that we aren’t usually triggered by other people – we are triggered by what they have. This is because they have what we want. They have something that aligns with us. 

So instead of acting out of envy we need to use them as inspiration. We need to tell ourselves that our jealousy is not a “bad” thing, it’s just our brain telling us we are experiencing scarcity or lack. We are worried that we are not enough. 

When we give in to envy or comparison all we are doing is giving our power away and participating in the energy of lack. We are telling ourselves we “can’t” have what we want. 

It’s bullsh*t. 

Turning Triggers Into Friends

But, with this knowledge we can make our triggers our friends. When we meet our triggers where they are, get to know the emotions, find the place of lack and support ourselves on a journey to our wants, we get to grow – they help us find the places we could use a little extra love and support. We get to take control. 

Honestly, I still get triggered. But, with this knowledge I’ve been able to take my triggers and turn them into opportunities for growth, clues on what I want and they’ve helped me identify where I need to add more self love into my life. 

Your triggers don’t have to control you. Ready to turn them into growth? 

Triggered AF MasterClass Coming Soon!

If you want more sign up for my “Triggered AF” masterclass on 8/3. We will dive into our triggers, tools for turning them into growth and how to take care of ourselves lovingly along the way. We will validate our feelings and then use them to develop ourselves and align with what we want. Details here. https://mailchi.mp/4a301b8bc6c2/triggered-af

Let’s grow babies. 

Media Consumption Boundaries

I am in a vicious game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (media consumption wise). I’m in desperate need of some media boundaries and conscious consumption. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Our Social Distancing Summer is making it easier than ever to sit behind our screens and consume the never ending marbles of information. Between Twitter trends, Instagram stories, Facebook arguments with racist relatives and the never ending, never sleeping news cycle this consumption is EXHAUSTING. 

I feel myself believing that I can’t stop eating the marbles. I can’t stop consuming.

Why? 

Because if I stop consuming I fall behind. I will no longer know what is going on. I may even be disconnected. 

On the occasions I do disconnect, I feel guilty because it’s a privilege to be able to forget for a little while. 

Obviously, this is unsustainable. So how do we stop eating all the marbles without falling behind with the news? 

Boundaries and Conscious Consumption

Boundaries 

Boundaries are a hot topic in the self help world. Every self help blog, book or Ted Talk I’ve consumed has mentioned them. Unfortunately, we hear a lot about them but we usually don’t get a full picture on them. Let’s break them down together before we move on. 

Boundaries, by definition, are limits we set based on how we want to interact with people or things. Setting healthy boundaries allows us to protect ourselves from the energy other people or things may require from us. They can be time limits, physical limits, emotional space, or mental limits. 

The important thing with boundaries is to remember that we set them to take care of ourselves NOT to burden ourselves with “shoulds” or pointless rules. 

My new and improved media consumption boundaries are: 

  • Screen time limit of 5 hours in a day on my phone (this includes Facetime because that is still phone screen time) 
  • 1 hour of each social media app per day 
  • 1 hour of additional news consumption 
  • No engaging or sharing content that includes violence against BIPOC or minorities

These limits are what work for me but remember to customize your boundaries to you! If you live alone maybe up that screen time option so you have more time to Facetime friends and family. Or maybe you’re really good about not being on your phone but you watch CNN 24/7 and you need to limit the number of news broadcasts you watch. Whatever works for you! 

*Reminder: Do not quit your boundaries just because you make a mistake or consume more media than intended. Some days I only use 3 hours of screen time, other days I use 6, either way I just try again the next day. 

Conscious Consumption 

Now that I have my boundaries in place I can prioritize conscious consumption. To do this I *try* to remember to ask myself the following questions: 

  • Is this serving me in any way? (Ways include but not limited to: joy, knowledge or entertainment) 
  • How is this media making me feel about myself?
  • If I were to have missed this media would I be uneducated on current events?
  • Is there more to learn on this subject or am I obsessively consuming content trying to make sense of something I have no control over? 

The list goes on and on but the sentiments are the same. I want to make sure I’m consuming things that are either essential or helpful to my mental or physical well being. If consuming certain pieces of media make me feel like shit (looking at you diet culture) and they are not essential or useful knowledge for me, I put effort into not consuming them. 

If anything or anyone I watch or engage with starts to make me feel negatively towards myself I put it down. 

Your Turn 

If you have been struggling with media consumption or if you have been working from home and feel the need to be “on” or available all the time, I encourage you to give boundary setting and conscious consumption a try. 

And, as always, if you need help getting your boundaries organized or set please reach out! I am more than happy to set up a session to help you live a life that fulfills you. Let’s make your dreams into your reality by making conscious decisions. 

butreallythocoaching@gmail.com 

Be You, Quit Trying to Be Perfect

If I had a penny for every post I’ve seen with something along the lines of “Be you, everyone else is taken <3”  I would no longer have student loan debt. While this cliche is easy to mock (and trust me – early 20’s Emily mocked it ruthlessly), I’ve recently come to the realization that it’s so popular because it’s actually kind of hard to do. Being yourself – being unique – truly identifying who you are and what you want in a situation is hard and a little confusing.

I can hear you groaning through the keyboard but hear me out, friends.This was a really hard task for me – I used to find it insanely difficult to be and define “me” and I don’t think I’m alone in this. I had a really hard time figuring out which thoughts, feelings and impulses were “me” vs the things I’ve been conditioned to believe or think. 

To truly identify me I had to:  

Separate who I was from how I felt (emotions) 

Separate who I was from all of my thoughts (impulsive thinking brain) 

After a lot of journaling, self discovery and asking myself a lot of why’s I found one of the roots to my identity crisis. Perfectionism.

As we all know, no one is perfect but a lot of us try to be. I had decided that I could not do ANYTHING that I was not perfect at…which triggered a major identity crisis considering NO ONE IS PERFECT.

No One Is Perfect

 Perfection is insidious. It is the downfall of mindset work. Perfection convinces us that we have to show up at 100% or we shouldn’t show up at all. It’s unattainable, unsustainable and frankly a load of bs.So I had to put myself in perfectionism recovery. Here are a few of the ways I shifted my mindset on perfection so I could get to know ME. 

*Before we jump in – I am NOT a therapist. If your perfectionist tendencies are interfering with your day to day life please seek the help of a medical professional. 

Pay Attention to Your Thoughts and Feelings 

Step one! Monitor those thoughts and feelings. Keep a journal, take a mental tally, set a reminder on your phone to take timeouts and check in – do whatever you need to do. 

You are not your thoughts or feelings BUT they do affect you. To help stop the perfectionism monster in its tracks you have to catch it. (Think of this like Swiper from Dora the Explorer – if you don’t see perfectionism sneak in you can’t stop it). 

Every time you catch yourself thinking a perfectionist thought such as “I shouldn’t even bother because this isn’t good enough” or “I’ll never have the perfect living room like all the instagram influencers” or “I’m going to quit posting about BLM because I can’t come up with the perfect or BEST way to talk about it”; Stop. Noodle on it. And think about it. Is this thought serving you? This thought – is it telling you who you are? How does it align with who you are?

Meeting your perfectionism in your thoughts is hard work.This will take TIME and PRACTICE.

Eliminate Good & Bad (Perfect & Imperfect) 

One way I’ve shifted my thoughts around perfection is by eliminating good & bad. I used perfectionism as a procrastination excuse. 

Ex: If I can’t meditate for a full 10-20 minutes then I shouldn’t do it at all because it’s not perfect or enough. Ex: If I can’t exercise for an hour everyday then it’s pointless and not enough. 

This mindset is a guaranteed ticket to failure town. Instead of aiming for perfection I aim for action. 

Ex: Doing 3 minutes of meditation is good. It is better than 0. Walking the dog for exercise is good, it is more than sitting on the couch. 

We don’t get to see instant results when we do things BUT if we kick perfectionism and build the habit we get better day by day sustainably. 

This was a crucial step for me because once I could recognize that any action towards my goal was PROGRESS! Tracking progress is motivating and serves us so much more than striving for perfection.

Celebrate EVERY LITTLE SUCCESS 

As a kid I would color in my coloring book, deem my art “not good enough” and then throw it away. My sweet, kind mother would pull my coloring out of my trash and hang it on the fridge because she thought it was good enough – I thought she was off her rocker. 

I was afraid that my art was never going to be good enough – my mother celebrated it. This was super important for me because it validated my skills even if I didn’t believe in them. 

As an adult I recently picked up the habit of celebrating every little success like I won the lotto. 


Complete the laundry? Dance party! 

Finish everything on my to do list? Take a nap in the sunshine! 

Catch a perfectionist thought before it derailed my day? CELEBRATE

Anything and everything is a cause for celebration. Make life your party. 

Get an Outside Opinion 

My final tip: Work with a mentor! Go to a therapist! Hire a coach!! Talk to someone about it. If you truly want to get to know who you are and what you want you have to eliminate the noise – and that includes the noise we’ve been conditioned to believe about ourselves. Work with someone you trust and who has your best interest in mind. 

Once you start noticing perfectionism it becomes a lot easier to catch. Once you start identifying which thoughts are yours and which are conditioned into you by your family/society/ external forces you get to take control. You get to kick perfection. You get to decide what you want your life to look like – and please – don’t try to make it perfect. 

Need help getting your mindset in check and getting to the root of who you are and what you want? Reach out to butreallythocoaching@gmail.com or visit the coaching tab. 

Let’s kick perfection and get to know our authentic selves. 

Harry Potter Inspired Self Care (Part 2)

Like I shared last week, I just finished re-reading the entire Harry Potter series as an act of self care. My mood has been messy and my brain has been a bit chaotic so I’ve been using my favorite series as inspiration for my self-care activities. By Harry Potter self care I do not mean taking Gryffindor themed bubble baths, creating shrines to Cedric Diggory or donning the sorting hat to advise us. Instead I want to instill in my self-care the values and tips shared throughout the books. 

But now that I think about it the sorting hat can be a fun metaphor for meditation!

So without further ado here are the rest of my Harry Potter self-care tips. Use them well and use them wisely.

Pensive (journal) 

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it” -Albus Dumbledore

This quote applies to others and ourselves. The way we use our words and talk to ourselves can help or heal us. I highly recommend the self-care practice of keeping a journal and re-writing any negative or harmful thoughts into something positive. 

The pensive is a perfect analogy for a journal. It is a basin that the wizards are able to use to pull thoughts out of their heads and watch them from a third party view. It’s all about perspective. When we put our thoughts on paper we begin to see them outside of ourselves similar to the effect of a pensive. 

Harry Potter & Puzzle Solving in the Bath

I’m a big bath person. I love bubbles, salts, candles, the whole works and it appears Cedric Diggory is as well. During the Tri-Wizard tournament Cedric gives Harry a hint on how to solve his egg puzzle – and it’s all about the bath.

By sitting in the tub, relaxing, being interrupted by Moaning Myrtle and then going underwater Harry figures out his clue. I personally adopt this practice (minus Moaning Myrtle) anytime I need to mull something over. The bath is a perfect spot to sit and think. 

Great Leaders are Handed Power

“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well”

Have you ever been put in charge of a group or project and immediately wondered why you? Leadership isn’t just CEO’s, high ranking officials and voluntary leaders – it’s also found in the people who did not ask for power or leadership but nevertheless are asked to take it on. 

The best bosses and leaders I’ve met are people who are not necessarily power hungry but who actually want to simply help others and somehow ended up in leadership. Leadership is not about status – it’s about influence. 

These are the last of my Harry Potter Self-Care pull yourself out of a rut tips! Take what you like, leave what you don’t and maybe mull them over in a bath. Have any additional tips? Leave them in the comments! 

*I am not a therapist or licensed medical professional. This does not replace the advice of a certified medical professional. Always work with a legitimate professional when it comes to your health.